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Jul 1, 2012
Fortune Products has become a trustworthy name in wholesale during the last 27 years by offering numerous events décor items, including LED candles, blacklights, police beacons and signals, fantasia fairy lights, and more. These fun tech items and numerous others can be found at www.fortuneproducts.com, often coming in attractive variations. For instance, the 5" x 5" police beacons can be purchased in green, amber, red, blue and pink, and the blacklights come as light bulbs and fixtures.
"We like to pioneer with innovative products whenever possible," says Bob Kocher Jr., president of Fortune Products. The industry veteran adds, "I like the excitement of introducing new products and seeing them become successful. I still get excited about what the next phone call might bring." Fortune Products recently unveiled a line of lighted bar products that could be attractive to dance clubs, as well as consumers who want to create a home bar. The items include a lighted beanbag, a lighted bar, and a lighted bench.
What makes Fortune Products' items hot sellers? According to Kocher, "A combination of using our own designs and upgrading products designed by others. Price is secondary to quality." Kocher describes his company's brand of customer care in simple terms. "We answer the phones, hate to be out of stock, and ship the orders right away," he says. "When customers have a problem, they have our immediate attention and assurance that we will help them."
Over the last two decades, sales have been growing so strongly that the Lake Stevens, WA based company has increased its warehouse space from 600 to 13,000 square feet. Internet sales have amply bolstered Kocher's bottom line, as independent retailers such as novelty shops and party stores have flocked to www.fortuneproducts.com. The site has come a long way, though, since being launched in 1999 as a product information destination for Fortune Products' network of dealers. "Our website is constantly being upgraded in an attempt to make it user friendly, rather than adding new technology just for the bells and whistles," Kocher says. His in-house design team focuses on making it, "simple, with ease of navigation," when they make their regular site enhancements, he says.
Behind The Scenes
Kocher says he took a pretty big risk when starting Fortune Products in 1985. "I didn't have a great plan and had very little money," he says. "I knew that sales were the key to success, so I started making the calls." Part of the reason he became an entrepreneur, he says, was tiring of working for someone else. "I decided early on that I would treat my employees with much greater respect than I had been given, and I believe this helped me to be a good leader and administrator," the company president explains. "Other than that, my wife, Debbie Kocher, deserves great credit for supporting me, both in spirit and with an income for several years."
In addition, Kocher offers employees autonomy over their positions, empowering them and subsequently strengthening the company. "We expect employees to take ownership of their job and be self-directing," he says "They take pride in their contribution to our daily business, and this attitude is felt by our customers. We also recognize that our employees have lives other than work, and do our best to accommodate their needs. We try to make the workplace both fun and serious. That might include a BBQ and long lunch on Friday, then back to work."
Kocher places business value on those team-building interactions, suggesting the BBQs and long lunches help his crew regularly overcome obstacles as they come into view. "Every day brings both minor and major challenges, and overcoming them is always rewarding," he says.
The wholesale executive has a marketing tip for B2B email marketers that could not only save them money but also increase sales. "We find that the ROI using bulk email service providers is poor at best," he explains. "Bulk emails to our own list of customers are a little better. Personal emails from salespersons to their customers are much better." Like most businesses, Fortune Products took a hit three years ago when the economy tanked, but it is rebounding healthfully. Since 2009, Kocher said, "We are recovering at a growth rate of about 20 percent per year."
Instincts Over Hype
Similar to many industry players nowadays, he has been hearing the buzz about social media marketing from nearly every news outlet. But Kocher's team is staying pragmatic, going where the sales are, rather than following the hype. "At this time," he says, "the company is not active in social media. We leave that decision to the sales staff, some of which are deriving some good from it. That success is not from spending their days in the social media; rather they have figured out what works for them and limit the time spent. As a wholesale-only company, the benefits are very hard to measure. We find that sales persons are wary of anything that wastes their time."
Kocher obviously trusts his sales staff. Overall, his leadership style can probably be summed up as decisive and lacking pretense. When asked what the secrets to his success are, he responds, "I don't think I can dazzle anyone with great answers to these questions. If I can lay claim to anything, it would be imagination. I'm not much of a joiner. But I'd recommend to anyone that having a mentor and associating with other people that are in business are great ideas. Though I don't have a mentor, I have learned many things from people I have done business with through the years."
For more information:
Fortune Products, Inc.
2824-A Old Harford Road
Lake Stevens, WA 98258
Toll Free: 800-345-4833
Topic: Company Profiles
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